Posts Tagged ‘#writershelpingwriters’

 

 

 

For those of you that loved “Not only the Dead“, a new tale of emotional terror is coming to you very soon care of your friendly neighborhood ‘serial thriller’.

As a writer, I enjoy delving into the realms of the human condition that people can relate to. In my lighter works, such as the first installment of my coming of age  ‘things taken’ series, Whispers of the Wakinyan, our heroes are pitted against monsters.

In Not only the Dead and its upcoming predecessor, The Artist and the Carpenter, our protagonists would beg to fight a monster or be given any opportunity to gain closure, because their battles originate from places unseen.

The dark.

The unimaginable.

The deeply personal.

Enjoy this “flash teaser”.

                                  Not a chapter, not a paragraph, but only a glimpse…

My mind apparently brushes over something unsettling, because about half way into the drive, the hair on my arms begins to stand on end and coldness begins to spread from somewhere deep inside my gut. Like many emotions that I hadn’t understood at the time:

I push the feelings away.

                    Knowing that one day,

                                        I will have to face them all,

                                                    Like a collection of unwanted children,

                                                                   Who as broken adults,

                                                                               Demand to know

                                                                                            Why they were not embraced.

 

COMING IN DECEMBER 2017

Greetings,

As we all prepare for Halloween, media seems to focus on tales of the dark and the macabre. Hollywood puts out its best nail biters and inevitably one of the bigger names in horror fiction releases a new book or maybe an anthology.

To remain consistant with the Halloween spirit I am posting “What if he Comes Back,” a 2000 word piece of (semi) flash fiction for your enjoyment.

If you do enjoy it, please share and repost to your heart’s content.

If you REALLY enjoy it, please check out my other books on amazon.

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What if He Comes Back?

by Jim T. Gammill

Susan could not walk to the end of her upstairs hallway. She tried to brave the walk at least once a day, but every time her feet would grow heavy, the weight of emotions and regret holding her in place like an anchor made of steel and rusted in tears. The room had belonged to her son, Michael. She called him her son now because the boy’s father, David, had left three months after Michael had gone missing.

“I can’t stand to be here. To be reminded,” David had told her, “maybe we should move.”

“What if he comes back?” Susan had replied.

Susan still remembered the conversation like it was yesterday. It was in the kitchen and she was making coffee, David was getting ready for the day; programmed and mindless like lemmings or hollow robots. She remembered the look on David’s face when she had said the words, a twisted expression that conveyed disgust, disbelief, and pity.

Susan had made the decision in that moment. She would not be silently reprimanded for having hope.

“You can’t be serious,” David said.

“I am,” Susan replied, “and if you don’t think he will, maybe you should leave.”

David did leave. He didn’t even take his things, just the clothes on his back, his cell phone, and the spare car, a ‘94 Honda. The couple hadn’t spoken since, their only correspondence through legal documents and certified mail. Some for separation and some for divorce.

The house was empty now. Save for memories and ghosts. The son that left, but never died and the man that died inside and then left. Susan wondered sometimes if Michael had died and if they had found a body if it would have made a difference. The finality it would have given them. The closure. It had been nearly two years now and the wounds on Susan’s heart weren’t necessarily fresh, but open and festering.

Susan awoke one morning and was nearly convinced that she could hear Michael and David talking downstairs. She closed her eyes and wished that it could be true. That her family could be home. Be real. She knew today wouldn’t be any different, she would hear the voices until the first landing on the stairs and then the voices would muffle, quiet, and then disappear altogether.

Day after day Susan would wander through the emptiness, work at the virtual office on her computer, and make the occasional phone call. She had taken a job as a transaction coordinator for a local real estate firm. She liked the job for the obvious reason, it allowed her to work from home, but also it made her feel good to help people get into their new homes. She would think often of how many of the transactions she processed were for newly-weds, young lovebirds, or expectant parents. She thought of how many women had been carried over the thresholds by their husbands and how many kids got to ride their bicycles into quiet suburban cul-de-sacs, simultaneously enjoying the safety of the less trafficked streets and proclaiming their presence to all the other kids in the neighborhood.

Michael used to love to ride his bike. He was getting pretty good at it too. A group of some older kids had made a wooden ramp and Susan would watch Michael from the window as he would make pass after pass down the sidewalk. She always wondered if he was trying to build up the courage to talk to the other kids or if he was just waiting for an invitation. After about a week he had gotten one and he did it. He made the jump flawlessly and one of the older boys had cheered, ran up, and gave him a high-five. Susan could see the smile on her son’s face from the window that day and to this day she could see it again anytime she closed her eyes.

After Michael went missing, the neighborhood seemed to have withered and died the same way her marriage had. For the first couple of days after his disappearance the neighborhood kids would still play in sporadic bursts, but after a week or two, the neighborhood was a ghost town when it came to anyone under 20. No bicycles. No playing. No high fives.

Susan found that the best way to adapt to her new solitude was routine. After the end of her virtual work day at 6pm, she would make herself a frozen dinner. She had loved to cook, but that joy had left her long ago, shortly preceded by her son and then her husband. She would eat her dinner with something mundane playing on the television. Sometimes a game show, a matchmaking show, and occasionally just the news. She would look at the television as she ate and become more and more disconnected. Trying not to remember what it had been like when they had all eaten together at the table.

One Tuesday night she finished her dinner and instead of moving to the next phase of her routine, which entailed reading a book in bed until she fell asleep, she decided to continue watching television. The Bachelor was on and Susan found herself enthralled by the drama. The desperate people whose worlds seemed to spin in turmoil based on the whim or affection of a stranger.

She watched in fascination at first, but soon found herself lost in thought. Was this what pain was supposed to look like? Desperate and disconnected. Happening to someone else? An avatar of a person on a soundstage? Her eyes had grown heavy and just as the desperate female suitors were called in for judgment, consciousness left her.

“You have been chosen,” Susan heard the television drone from somewhere simultaneously inside of her head and far far away.

She slept comfortably on the couch until a noise woke her.

Knocking.

Susan searched the cushions of the couch and found the remote. She turned off the television and groggily wondered how she had been able to sleep in the first place with the thing turned up so loud.

Knocking.

Susan gasped despite herself and looked nervously around the darkness of her living room. She tried to make sense of what the noise could be. Where it could be coming from.

Knocking.

She turned her head toward the front door and could almost see the vibration of the last knock as her eyes adjusted to the darkness. She stood up and could feel her knees shaking as she rounded the corner of the sofa and approached the door. She stood for a moment, her toes teetering on the threshold like a diver ready to leap for a high dive.

Knocking.

Susan jumped. A scream fought to escape, but instead sat immobile and heavy in her chest.

She looked through the peephole and saw a small shadow.

A woman?

A small man?

No.

A child.

“Who is it?” Susan forced herself to ask.

Through the peephole, she could see the visitor perk up at the sound of her voice. The child moved its head closer to the door.

“May I come in?” The visitor said.

Susan started to unlock the door but thought better of it. She looked across her living room and saw that the digital clock on the cable box read 3:33.

“Where are your parents?”

The visitor cringed at the question, “gone. Just invite me in.”

Susan squinted through the peephole, desperate to see more of her late night visitor. She wanted to help, but something about the child at the door didn’t feel right. A sense of dread grew inside of her. Something dark. Something primal.

She watched the thing and noticed that is displayed no signs of desperation. No anticipation of her opening the door. Her eye still pressed to the peephole, she reached over to the light switch and flicked the porch light on.

The visitor recoiled. For an instant, it looked straight at Susan through the tiny peephole. She gasped when she saw the things face. It was a child, but its skin was pale and where its eyes should have been there were two large and glassy black orbs. Before Susan could react, the thing hissed like a vampire from an old movie and dove onto the sidewalk. She watched in disbelief as the child-thing scurried into the darkness on all fours, its knee and elbow joints jutting away from its body unnatural angles.

Susan gasped for air and when she felt a cold wetness on her cheek, she realized that she was crying. She felt as if something terrible had just happened to her. Some type of trespass. She tried to control her body, or at least to stop shaking. She walked up the stairs almost mechanically, moving not under the control of her mind, but of pure reflex or memory. She reached the top of the stairs and was shocked when she turned toward the room at the end of the hall that she would not enter. She approached the door to Michael’s room and opened it.

The space was just as he had left it months ago, maybe even a year now. She had felt so hollow since he had gone missing and found little import in the idea of time. She walked to his bed and laid down on it.

“What am I doing?” She pondered aloud, “am I losing my mind?”

She pulled the pillow to her nose and wept when she smelled the familiar scent of her son. Unconsciously, she curled into a ball and squeezed the pillow tight into her chest. The sorrow and the helplessness were too much. The remnants of her sanity leaked from her as freely as the tears on the cartoon pillowcase. Between her sobs, she heard something.

Knocking.

Susan got up and began to walk back to the front door, uncertain what she would do if the face of the child-thing was there to greet her through the peephole. As she neared the threshold of Michael’s room, she heard something else.

Knocking.

Not from the door, but from the bedroom window.

She paused and felt a rage growing inside. The thing could trespass against her house, but not here. Not Michael’s room; it was all she had left of him. She stomped across her son’s room and threw open the curtains.

Michael stared back at her through large black eyes. Everything about him looked the same save for the eyes.

“Michael!” Susan screamed.

“Invite me in, Mom,” Michael asked in the low sweet voice that she had come to miss so much.

The feeling of wrongness was back again, but she pushed through it. She reached for the window’s thumb-lock and slid the window open. She stepped back a few steps into the center of the room to allow her son room to drop down from the ledge.

He did and when his feet hit the ground, he rushed her. She could feel his arms embrace her as she wept tears of joy and fear.

“Come in!” Michael yelled.

From over her son’s shoulder, she could see others pouring through the open window, one with long hair, one with a hooded sweatshirt, and then the original visitor from the front door. She could feel the embrace growing stronger as each of the children approached her and Michael and wrapped their arms around them as well. She fell to her knees and then even further.

The embrace had gone quickly from comforting to crushing.

She struggled a little but then gave into it.

Susan found that she could not draw in another breath. She could feel the darkness closing in on her mind and managed to squirm enough to take one last deep breath. It wasn’t for air, but to breath in the scent of her missing son. Her Michael.

She looked into the black eyes of the thing that had been her son and smiled.

“I knew you would come back.”

As many of you know, Whispers of the Wakinyan is now live in the kindle store as well as in print on amazon.com.

BOOKS AVAILABLE HERE

Many exciting things have happened in the 48 hours or so since the book was released. Book sales are off to a great start in both formats and Whispers of the Wakinyan has also been downloaded several times through the Kindle Direct program, that allows members of Amazon Prime to download thousands of titles free to their kindle or ereader.

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It may seem somewhat strange for free copies of a work to be welcomed, but the download and consumption of free copies helps to both boost the ‘title rank’ in Amazon analytics and also qualifies the book to receive royalties from the Kindle Select Fund, which is distributed to all participating titles according to the number of pages read by subscribers.

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Also, I have been invited to enter Whispers of the Wakinyan in an Amazon UK contest that is open to new book listings. With this being said, please remember to read and review to help take Whispers of the Wakinyan to the top of the rankings! Prizes include exclusive publishing opportunities and a higher rate of exposure.

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I was fortunate enough to be part of an author meet and greet/book signing on Sunday, March 5th in my home town of Menifee, California. The turn-out was great and the level of support from the community was fantastic!

This is one of many photos provided by my good friend Michael Perez, a top-notch inland empire photographer behind fotohaus studios.

Check out fotohaus at http://www.fotohausco.com

He took some great photos of the event, which I will be sharing with you all as soon as they become available.

I would also like to offer a very special thanks to the handful of attendees that signed up to be beta-readers for the sequel to Whispers of the Wakinyan, the work is untitled as of now, but will be the second installment of the ‘The Things that Follow’ series.

It would make sense that the process of editing and finalizing would be the most drawn out and pain-staking to a group of individuals (writers and other creatives) that are traditionally self-critical and border-line paranoid about how their work may be received.

Yet, despite this unfortunate reality, editing and proofing is not only the best way to make a work stand out, but also for an author to transcend from amateur to professional. Many literary powerhouses have passed on their wisdom about the editing process and regardless of what they say or how they say it, the end result is generally the same:

Writing down your ideas is only the beginning!

or the ever-popular euphemism,

Real writing begins AFTER the first draft is complete.

For me, the thought of editing is no different. I feel the urge to tell another story the second I wrap up the one that I am working on. But, how fair would that be to the characters that inhabit the pages, the meters within the stanzas, or the themes shrouded beneath the webs of prose that we, as writers labor so hard to create?

The answer:

Not at all.

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Editing takes determination and patience, but the resulting drafts are far more rewarding than half-finished or open-ended manuscripts that are not just unsuitable for the market place, but questionable for even sharing with a friend or family member!

As some of my more regular readers probably know, I have just completed a close-to-final edit on my upcoming full length novel, The Legend of Thunderbird, Coyote, and Joey Gordon. The time spent in editing that beast could have allowed me to create a couple of smaller sized works from concept to print (or kindle), but like the ideas outlined above:

The end product was totally worth it!

To effectively end this post, I would like to leave you with a couple of my favorite editing quotes:

“Kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”

-Stephen King-

“I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.”

-Truman Capote-

HAPPY EDITING EVERYONE!

Have you ever noticed that sometimes a movie, novel, or other work of creative prose may have an outstanding premise, but ends up leaving you wanting?

Like dry turkey without gravy.

A peanut butter sandwich without jelly.

You get the idea.

When I used to encounter these common offenders in my pre-writing life I would ask myself questions like where did the author go wrong? Or, the story was so cool, but why did it leave me unconvinced and unfulfilled?

And then, late one dark and stormy night (aka sitting at my desk writing about a subject that was new and unfamiliar) it happened to me. I was feverishly writing a suspenseful paranormal   screenplay about extra-terrestrials through the eyes of a hard-boiled detective. I successfully dodged clichés (aside from hard-boiled of course) and everything was coming together, and THEN:

I re-read it.

AND CRINGED!

I took a break from my writing desk and stepped into my backyard, which for me always offers some distance from the worlds in my head by showcasing the world that we live in. In the foothills of a secluded semi-desert valley, I am always treated with scenes of local wildlife, bright stars, or air traffic from the local military base. I thought about what was working in my story and what wasn’t. I realized that the detective, who’s perspective the story was told through was just too strong and level-headed to create the tension that I was really looking for. His girlfriend, a journalist and rape survivor, was a much better outlet for a story about vulnerability and offered the reader more of a human connection.

I re-wrote the story through the journalist’s perspective and was amazed that it not only increased the overall tension, but made the thought of alien abduction all the more terrifying as she could relate it to her past experience of being raped. People usually don’t like movies for aliens or monsters alone (although in my opinion, they DO help quite a bit), the stories that are really successful and memorable are usually the ones that speak to audiences on an emotional or human level.

Of course, if a story isn’t working the way that you want it to it could just be bad (I have had a couple of those too!), but if you have a great premise and feel that your narrative is not as strong as it could be, a change in perspective could be just the thing that you are looking for.

For those of you that read my last blog post: “Which do you feed, the Id or the masses?”, may have thought that there was some specific reason that I posted on the topic. Those readers would be correct. While writing my first screenplay, Red Reaper, Burn, I was constantly questioning if the subject matter was relevant to the film market at that moment in time. For that project, I found that the story was in fact more relevant to the current market near its completion than it was during early development. I didn’t expect this, in fact I knew that I HAD to write that screenplay because the story was just too powerful to pass up. The second time I found myself a slave to the muse turned out to be a very different ride altogether.

My second feature length screenplay was a complete labor of love. The excitement I felt while prepping for this project was greatly due to the fact that I had come up with the basic premise of the story years before and after the successful completion of Red Reaper, Burn, I felt that I finally had the ability to tell this story that had been building in my subconscious for nearly a decade. It is a very empowering feeling to know that you have a unique and dynamic story idea that is all fleshed out and that you possess the tools to tell it.

The screenplay took me about half the time to complete because, as I said before, it was mostly mapped out in my head. It is also the only project that I have ever written that retained its working title after completion; Ice Box was more of a brain child than a writing project and like some human children, the story started growing in ways that I hadn’t anticipated. I had originally envisioned the story as a psychological horror that took place mostly in the California Desert, a place that I spent many of my youthful years. After a couple of drafts, I was satisfied with the sense of foreboding I had created in the familiar landscape of my childhood, but as the story unfolded something unexpected happened: two of my characters fell in love.

I knew that it would take some work to make this unexpected love story ‘POP’, but I did not want to take away from the insane content of the story (which is discussed below). It worked out well in this case, as the characters were so clearly defined that their dialogue and actions became oftentimes apparent and sometimes even instantaneous.

The story ended up being a total Id project for me! It may not ever win an Academy Award, but it is a fun read that would make a fantastic movie.

Using the traditional formula for an elevator pitch I would say:

The bizarre love depicted in “True Romance” and the hyper-real violence of “Pulp Fiction” meets the paranormal suspense and mystery of “The Sixth Sense”.

Below I have included my original logline and teaser intro for Ice Box.

Logline

Desperate to escape from terrifying glimpses of the spirit world, a self-medicating medical delivery driver finds himself caught in a murderous conspiracy when the girl he is transporting becomes the target of an ailing Yakuza crime boss.

Teaser Intro

THOMAS has been able to see the spirit world since receiving a life-saving organ transplant. As a young man with no family and no higher-education he gives back to the altruistic cause by delivering transplant organs and transporting sick patients. Due to his proximity to the dead and the dying, Thomas is forced to interact with spirits on a daily and seemingly endless basis. It was becoming too much to handle, until he found that drugs could keep the visions at bay. The downside is that the spirit of MIKEY, the young boy whose organ now resides inside of Thomas, is anchored to him and is becoming a dark and twisted reflection of Thomas’ drug addled body.

ARI is a high school senior who like all young people is desperate to find her own identity. This is very difficult, living with overbearing parents and surrounded by friends who try their best just to “fit in”. When Ari gets her driver’s license, she finds herself able to make her first serious choice as an individual: she decides to register as an organ donor. When her long-time friend convinces her to sneak out for a big weekend party her life changes forever, the car she is in is hit head-on by a truck, leaving her in a medically induced coma. The worst part is that she can see the pain on the faces of her family and friends as her detached spirit watches from the sidelines.